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The AMAAD Institute Celebrates National Youth Month


“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature.

If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world,

I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” 

― Maya Angelou

A Message From Our CEO

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Happy Spring!

Spring is a time for reemergence and growth, and the AMAAD Institute embodies that. AMAAD is centered on developing and sustaining opportunities for the intersections of our communities that live, love, and socialize in South Los Angeles, especially our young people.

For the National Youth Month, AMAAD Institute recognizes National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, centering prevention, treatment, and education for the youth and young adults of our community. In this month’s issue, we’ll highlight some of the great young adults and programs of AMAAD. 

This month, AMAAD also celebrates National Reentry Week. One of the core principles of AMAAD is resiliency. Programs like Project imPACT and the Reclaiming Innocence Project are designed to provide services and activities for those recently released, formerly incarcerated, or justice involved. At AMAAD, we know the many unique challenges and experiences that come from system involvement; and because of that, all of our programs center lived experience while providing behavioral health therapy, employment support, legal support, and housing support for those who are justice involved. 

I invite you to check out our calendar of events and activities as well. As AMAAD begins to reintroduce in-person programming, our team is committed to responsible and mindful activities and prioritizes the safety of our staff, program participants, and community as a whole.  

As the days get longer and the nights get warmer, we are beginning to see more of the light at the end of the tunnel, and the AMAAD Institute is excited for what’s next for our agency and for our community. 

Follow us on Instagram at @amaad_institute and on Facebook at @amaadinstitute for the latest of what’s happening at AMAAD! 

Happy Spring! 

Carl Highshaw, DSW, MSW

The AMAAD Institute Founder and CEO

Would you like to be a part of any of our Mentorship Program (including virtually)?
Yes, might be interested in being a mentor.
Yes, I might be interested in being a mentee.
I might be able to volunteer some other way.
I would not, but I would refer a friend or loved one.
I am currently not interested or available.

AMAAD Squad Highlight: Chris Webb


"My name is Christopher Webb, and I wear a couple different hats for The AMAAD Institute. My first hat is an Outreach Coordinator; this is so natural to me, because I love people. I always look for an opportunity to help and support anyone I come in contact with, because the world needs more love and kindness. The second hat I wear is Communication Specialist. Because of my eye for design and enjoying creating things that make people feel and also think. These include videos, flyers, newsletters, graphics, etc. The last hat I wear is HIV Tester Counselor. This position is so special to me, because I get to do this for my community. I want to set an example for youth and young people that come after me as well as my peers. I want to show them that it's okay to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It can be so hard to get your first HIV test. Most people are scared of what their result might be or someone finding out. But I take pride in knowing that I can help support people through the process without them feeling ashamed or inferior.

My experience while working at AMAAD has been a real game changer. I have always had some confidence, but AMAAD helped take it to the next level. From day one, my skills have grown and reached heights I didn't know I could reach so fast. This organization not only pours into community, but also into the staff that keeps the programs running. Working with a staff that is majority African American is something I do not take for granted. In a way, it serves as therapy for me to change the world with people who have also overcome challenging pasts and trauma. Everyday is a testament to how great we can be if we move with a purpose.

What inspires me about working at AMAAD is seeing people grow and become happier people. We meet all kinds of young people from around Los Angeles. Some have a place to stay and some had to sleep at the nearest bus stop. I take pride in knowing that I'm a part of an organization that cares about housing our homeless youth and caring for our community. Being that I was almost that kid when I was younger, I find it my duty to serve the people I can help through my work."

Christopher Webb

Outreach and Communications Specialist

"Be The Example You Want to See"


By Gerald Garth, Director of Operations & Programs 

For many of the most impactful movements in history, youth and young adults have been at the forefront. Young people bring a vigor and passion that is essential for change. Yet all youth and young do not received equal support or access. When compared to other diversity groups, data shows that Black LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately impacted among several health disparities, including HIV, homelessness, substance use and abuse, mental and emotional health needs, and incarceration. 

As a Black queer man, I realize that many of the experiences of our community come from limited spaces of being seen as valuable and being valued. While recruitment and research efforts will often "target" Black gay, bisexual, same gender loving men and other sexual minority groups, they do not center, celebrate, or prioritize the communities for our fullness and richness. 

The AMAAD Institute as well as I personally have commitment to creating safe spaces for youth and young adults, from events and activities to leadership opportunities. By creating and sustaining peer-led, strength-based programming that centers the unique and special experiences and culture of Black and Black LGBTQ+ people and our contributions to the world, we build a sustainable culture of self-empowerment, self-worth, and self-efficacy by having trustworthy spaces centered in belonging authentically.

I also personally recognize the power of storytelling in our community’s health and wellness. The tradition of arts and culture and their modes of expression are key to strengthening and empowering individuals to be in the “driver’s seat” of their own care; that is, advocating effectively and proactively for one’s own wellness. 

Youth become adults. Providing skills and opportunities along with leadership development are essential to Black health and wellness. By building effective and transferable skills, like public speaking and technical writing, individuals can effectively navigate, participate, and address many of the very structures that capitalize, manipulate, limit, or exclude Black youth, from public health and academia to faith and family. 

At AMAAD, we recognize the need for more opportunities to affirm and position Black youth and young adults. As a writer and creative, I have developed programs like WORD (Writing Our Reality Down) and Your Story, Your Words (YSYW) that reinforce that messaging and programs must affirm, celebrate, and highlight the unique experiences of the community through our own voice. Other AMAAD programs such as Project ROAR (Restoration, Outreach, Advocacy, and Resiliency), a diversion and leadership development project designed for Black and Latinx youth and young adults, and F3 (Fierce, Fabulous, and Free), which connects young GBTQ+ men and masculine individuals to programs, activities, services, events, and brotherhood. 

AMAAD has an ongoing commitment to growing and enhancing young people. Part of my own self-actualizing has been in part through developing and supporting self-expression as a part of self-care. By recognizing and acknowledging that we ourselves are the experts of our own experiences and being centered as such, our communities will see the ongoing health, healing, and wellness we so richly deserve. 

April Program Calendar


Click here to access online programming. 

House of Resiliency Highlight

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James Morgan, H.O.R. Participant

"My name is James Morgan. I’m a 24-year-old African American man. My experience with AMAAD and the team has been a welcoming one, as well as an eye-opening one. To me, AMAAD means a fresh start. It has given me a chance to figure out who I am on a deeper level. AMAAD also means responsibility. I draw inspiration from everything around me.

My experience with AMAAD and the team has been an inspirational one. This second chance has given me new motivation towards my life. It has helped me refocus myself on my goals and dreams. What inspires me the most is helping other people."

If you or someone you know would like to connect with services of the "House of Resiliency," click here!

Reclaiming Innocence Highlight

"My name is Pierre Nutall, and I have been receiving services from AMAAD for about one year. I am mature in age, laid back, and easy going. I like to go with the flow, but if there is an issue, I like to deal with as soon as I can.

My experience with AMAAD has been a learning experience. It has taught me patience. I now know that there are people out there that you can depend on. Working with the staff, especially in therapy, has been enlightening. The therapist has helped me to understand who I am and has helped give me a sense of pride. I have learned how to hold my head up and to know that there are positive people backing me. Patience has been my biggest lesson. I had to learn that things don’t always go how I would like them to be, but I am learning that things somehow seem to work out for the good when I trust the process. I am not more comfortable with understanding things don’t happen overnight.

For me, AMAAD means a positive path. It’s a place where there is no negative energy and has been a very pleasant experience. It’s all about growth, self-worth, moving forward, breaking barriers and overcoming obstacles or disadvantages. I can appreciate the growth that has happened for me this past year. I am able to see the obstacles and barriers I have been able to overcome. As a spiritual person, to look in retrospect and learn from the experiences of the past is a blessing. And being able to learn from others, to remain teachable has been my greatest lesson.

I have learned how to recognize many of my triggers and reach out to ask for help when I am not able to deal with things on my own. It helps me to be a spiritual person, because I believe that my Higher Power will not put more on me than I can bear. I like who I am and where I am at this point in my life. It is still and ongoing process, but I’m thankful for the life skills that I have acquired with AMAAD."

To learn more or to become a participant of the Reclaiming Innocence Project, click here!

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Christopher Webb- Communications Coordinator

Gerald Garth - Editor

Carl Highshaw - Publisher

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